How titanium is helping to quench thirst.

Posted by David Sear
Many years ago, I met an engineer who started discussing his work with pipelines in Saudi Arabia. My first (naïve) thought was that this referred to an oil or gas pipeline. However, the assumption was way off the mark, for this gentleman was employed by the water sector.
In fact, if I recall correctly, he told me it was cheaper to buy petrol than fresh water in Saudi Arabia. I’ve never been able to verify that in person, but I was reminded of the anecdote when I saw a recent press release about plans for a new desalination plant.
In the news item, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction announced it has received a Letter of Award from the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) for a seawater desalination project to be executed in Ras Az Zawr.
The value? A staggering USD 1.46 billion!
That really brought home the importance of fresh water and the sums people have to pay to secure reliable access.
Scheduled for completion by January 2014, the design of the plant is understood to be a hybrid method that combines MSF (Multi-Stage Flash, 160 MIGD) and Reverse Osmosis technologies (67.5 MIGD).
What makes this project interesting for “our” industry is the common use of titanium tubing in various sections of desalination facilities.
According to an ATI press release, their UNITI Joint Venture will be supplying up to 6.0 million pounds of commercially pure (CP) titanium strip to produce the titanium tubing for the project.
At the time of writing I have yet to verify exactly where and how this titanium is to be used, but it is certainly a substantial quantity. In fact, it is the single largest order in UNITI’s history.
However, one source would indicate that titanium tubes are recommended in all three sections of an MSF plant: heat rejection, heat recovery and brine heating.
So if any readers can shed further light on the use of titanium in desalination systems, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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